I had decided to fully lesson-plan my presentation. The whole idea behind DesignFest! was to take the HackerJam and Codeathon models, where software developers get together for short periods of time to collaborate along themed projects, and provide a similar structured time for teachers to collaborate on class projects. I created a 20-minute-ish "lecture" with an accompanying Prezi (my first!) The lecture would be followed by a 20-minute-ish "gallery walk" where participants would visit 6 posters to share their thoughts and respond to each other's thoughts, followed by a whole-group share-out of themes and big ideas. Those posters took most of the morning to prepare!
Finally, the last hour would be our work time to plan collaborative projects between our students! This was the plan, and I spend the whole morning preparing and talking through the "lecture" (with a short break to call my dad and calm my nerves). Unfortunately, working in the Green Room brought back my anti-entrepreneur anxiety, as several groups preparing in the Green Room with me were discussing topics around "personalized adaptive learning" that removed all student creativity, collaboration, and human connection from the learning process, and the Green Room staff themselves talked critically about the laziness and messiness of teacher presenters when - I can only assume - they forgot I was working over in the corner. Thank goodness for that walk and chat with my dad...
At 11am, my wonderful helpful "room host" Cheryl escorted me to my room, helped set up my tech, hung my posters, and brought me water! She was a life-saver, and - if I could - I would nominate her for a Best-Volunteer-At-SXSWedu award. The wonderful Mary Cantwell (@scitechyEDU) showed up early with much-needed morale support!
My workshop kicked off, and it. went. swimmingly. The "lecture" portion could not have been smoother. I felt like I knew what I was talking about, not babbling, and heads around the room were nodding and smiling. My vision of global collaborative learning is essentially:
- Support students in developing place-based understanding, and bringing that local expertise to a distributed group to develop a more global or systemic understanding
- Scaffold student community and collaborative dialogue to help them deepen and articulate their thinking
- Find - or develop! - the best technology to support this scaffolded global collaboration
I can't possibly list all the resources I used in putting this vision together, but they are all outlined in my resource folder on GDrive, which I hope people will continue to use! However, Jan van Aalst's work on knowledge-creation discourse definitely made the biggest waves and elicited the most questions: scaffolding student communication to deepen their thinking is so vital and so under-utlized!!
My lecture went smoothly, and the gallery walk went excellently once I actually got everyone out of their seats! Many contributed very thoughtful reflections to the three elements of the vision, and many also responded to others' thought - the pedagogy of my session itself worked!
(Many thanks to Jenny Magic @JennyLMagic for the cute pic!)
The actual "workshopping" part didn't work so well. We identified affinity groups by age-level taught by teachers, and I invited non-educators to join the conversations to plan projects teachers could implement with their students. However, no actual project planning occurred. Several edtech entrepreneurs with active startups had many questions for teachers about the viability of their projects and - while I'm sure these conversations were useful - I was disappointed that they derailed the purpose of the workshop. Nevertheless, many educators - including myself! - made connections with other educators with whom we can collaborate in the future! Educators and entrepreneurs both seemed happy with the new research and pedagogies I shared, and I was definitely satisfied with the session!
Following my session, I had lunch with the wonderful Melissa Techman, and high-tailed it back in time to catch a bit of Jennifer Chan's (@jennzia) "Breaking Down The Walls of Schools" and a bit of Rick Hess's "Cage Busting Leadership." Both were lovely, thoughtful sessions focused on kids and education and NOT on technology-as-a-panacea, and I was far too exhausted to focus on either session (plus responding to the mountain of emails from my students back home!).
My last session for the day (and the only one I really participated in, other than my own) was Anne Collier, Jackie Gerstein (@jackiegerstein), and Joan Young's (@flourishingkids) under-attended session Tech Provides Social-Emotional Learning in Schools. They shared a mighty trove of resources about the importance of social-emotional learning and ideas for using technology to enhance developing those skills, including:
They also shared beautiful in-the-classroom examples of social emotional learning supports, but with tech and without. They emphasized that tech promotes DIALOGUE, and that that is one of tech's biggest positives in the classroom (quite the opposite of isolate-the-kids for their "personalized adaptive learning"). I agree whole-heartedly. (One of the first audience comments struck a chord, and as I stretched to see who it was... of course it was Melissa Techman @mtechman!)
Joan also described a beautiful tech-neutral means of addressing a disciplinary issue, which is one of my favorite take-aways from SXSWedu so far. She described a student who had written an inappropriate element into one of his blog posts, and - rather than "punishing" him or just telling him no - explained to him that it was a great opportunity for the whole class to learn, and offered him a way to use his mistake as a teaching moment that everyone could benefit from. Thank you so much for that, Joan!
The session ended with two groups separating for either round-table sharing or hands-on learning. I went with the hands-on learning group and had a lovely time playing with QR codes and Flickr and SEL concepts, resulting in our lovely photo representation of Trust + Problem-Solving = Collaboration.
Finally, I escaped to the Bloggers Lounge to get all my thoughts out... I think my brain has now returned to empty, and I only have 45 minutes to hit the "meetups" before my dinner date with another fabulous group of teachers!